“I Absolutely Loved It!” (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #6)

This is the sixth of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1 and reflection #2 and reflection #3 and reflection #4 and reflection #5). The assignment to which students are responding can be found here. I am grateful to these students for their willingness to have their thoughts shared publicly.

Sociology of Guns student at range field trip, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Liana Hutton

Approximately half a year ago, when I signed the form to participate in this course, it discussed how we were required to go on a field trip to the gun range. My first thoughts were how interesting this would be because of my background. I grew up in Hilton Head, South Carolina – a place that loves guns – but in a family that grew up in New York and does not like guns. Growing up in a very socially liberal household in a socially conservative area gave me an interesting perspective. Not only did I develop my own beliefs about guns in general, but I also developed a sense of what others believed, and why. In high school, I was part of the Young Democrats club, which came together when mass shootings happened to hold an entire school activity to remember those lost in the Parkland shooting specifically. I remember that day, the members of the Young Republicans club passed around stickers to students that said, “I support the second amendment.”

To sum it up, I lived in a place that loved the second amendment, where lots of teenagers went hunting with their parents growing up, and lived in households that had multiple kinds of guns. I grew up in a family that believed, and still does, that we need gun control, and that some types of guns should be banned.

Continue reading

“My Previous Beliefs about Guns in the US Were Amplified” (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #5)

This is the fifth of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1 and reflection #2 and reflection #3 and reflection #4). The assignment to which students are responding can be found here. I am grateful to these students for their willingness to have their thoughts shared publicly.

Sociology of Guns student at range field trip, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Jayden Brown

After attending the range, I think that my previous beliefs about guns in the US were amplified. When I was holding the guns, it felt like I was handling too much power; it made me very nervous. It made me think about how some people can pull the trigger so easily, especially when it is aimed at another person. I think that television shows have also desensitized us from the truth surrounding guns. On TV, especially on cop shows, the police officers and perpetrators fire guns at each other like it is nothing. They make it look a lot easier than it actually is.  

Continue reading

“The Gun Felt More Like a Dangerous Tool Instead of the Killing Machine I Thought It Was” (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #4)

This is the fourth of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1 and reflection #2 and reflection #3). The assignment to which students are responding can be found here. I am grateful to these students for their willingness to have their thoughts shared publicly.

Sociology of Guns students at range field trip, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Elisabeth Kuguru

My experience shooting a gun for the first time today mostly fits with my prior understanding of guns in the US. In recent years, I have become a lot more open to shooting at gun ranges, but I could never picture myself picking up a gun and shooting. Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, guns were always meant to be feared. They are completely illegal in Kenya, however guards and police are permitted to carry them. When living there, I knew that if a gun was involved it could only mean danger. Although I did not have to be fearful of school shootings in Nairobi, I was wary of terrorist attacks. These were my first impressions of guns, so I was shocked to come to North Carolina to see people open carrying in Costco and at parties.

Continue reading

A Singular Word to Describe My Experience at the Gun Range: Liberating (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #3)

This is the third of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1 and reflection #2). The assignment to which students are responding can be found here. I am grateful to these students for their willingness to have their thoughts shared publicly.

Sociology of Guns student at range field trip, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Mansi Patel

To use a singular word to describe my experience at the gun range, I would choose liberating. As a young liberal woman who grew up in Georgia, guns tended to be a very polarizing topic and still are. As mass shootings continued to increase throughout the country, public displays of protest on both sides of the issue also began to increase. Especially after the school shooting in Parkland, I began to not only educate myself on politics, but also notice the very obvious divide between the two parties– pro-gun and anti-gun. I quickly politicized the issue like the rest of society, but visiting the gun range reminded me that your views do not need to align perfectly with the narrative of either CNN or FOX. The only entity they need to align with is yourself. 

Continue reading

“I Surprised Myself with My Openness and Enjoyment of the Activity” (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #2)

This is the second of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1). The assignment to which students are responding can be found here. I am grateful to these students for their willingness to have their thoughts shared publicly.

Sociology of Guns student at the range, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Audrey Dorfman

Prior to the field trip to Veterans Range, I would classify my view of guns in the US as predominantly negative. As I had previously never directly interacted with a gun before, I only associated the use of guns with the violence seen in the media in horrific crimes like mass shootings. I did not understand the need or desire to be a gun owner. However, the experience at the range definitely altered my prior understanding of guns in the US as I surprised myself with my openness and enjoyment of the activity.

Continue reading

“You Might Be The Last Person I Would Ever Expect to Do That” (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #1)

This is the first of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2021 Sociology of Guns seminar. The assignment to which students are responding can be found here. I am grateful to these students for their willingness to have their thoughts shared publicly.

Sociology of Guns student shooting during range field trip, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Amelia Baker

Before going on this trip, I mentioned it to a few of my friends and family. Most of them either didn’t believe me or thought I was joking. When I told them it was true and I was really going to a shooting range, I got a nearly identical response across the board; “You might be the last person I would ever expect to do that.”

Continue reading

Student Gun Range Field Trip Reflection Essays for Fall 2022 Forthcoming

Later today, I will begin posting some of the field trip reflection essays my Sociology of Guns students were required to submit following our visit to Veterans Range at the start of this semester.

The field trip is historically a highlight of the course for students and the reflection essays are among the most popular items I post to my blogs every year (previous student reflections can be found on my Sociology of Guns collected posts page).

The essays provide interesting insights into the experience and thoughts of young adults who for the most part are not invested in, or even familiar with, guns and gun culture. They are gun curious.

Sociology of Guns student at Veterans Range, Fall 2020
Continue reading

Collected Posts on Sociology of Guns Seminar (Updated 9/22)

In Fall 2022, I am teaching my “Sociology of Guns” seminar at Wake Forest University for the eighth consecutive academic year, dating back to the fall of 2015. A PDF of the course syllabus for Version 8.0 is available HERE.

Over the years, I have posted a number of times on this blog and my older Gun Culture 2.0 blog about this seminar. This entry collects those earlier posts — from both blogs — including many written by students in the class.

Continue reading

Sociology of Guns Seminar Student Final Reflection #8: I Just Could Never Understand This Great Excitement about Guns

As noted earlier, the final assignment of the semester in my Sociology of Guns seminar is for the students to write an essay reflecting on their personal experience with and understanding of guns in light of what they learned in the course.

This is the eighth and final final reflection essays, written by a student whose initial reflections on our field trip to the gun range can be found here. (Link to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh reflection essays.)

Reflection essay author presenting her work to Sociology of Guns seminar, November 2021. Photo by David Yamane
Continue reading

Sociology of Guns Seminar Student Final Reflection #7: There is Still More that I Would Like to Know to Make Informed Choices

As noted earlier, the final assignment of the semester in my Sociology of Guns seminar is for the students to write an essay reflecting on their personal experience with and understanding of guns in light of what they learned in the course.

Here is the seventh of several such essays, written by a student whose initial reflections on our field trip to the gun range can be found here. (Link to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth reflection essays.)

Reflection essay author presenting his work to Sociology of Guns seminar, November 2021. Photo by David Yamane
Continue reading